Global Course

Spatial Planning & Institutional Design

Lecture 2

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In this lecture de Roo proposes an alternative frame of reference for analysing a planning issue - the ‘nine cells model’. This frame structures empirical observations in a way to give informative statements while accepting humans as they are, and acknowledges the uniqueness of every situation. In doing so, this alternative frame of reference must also offer a generic understanding of human behaviour within space and place. The ‘nine cells model’ captures the ‘material environment’ in the ‘material’ cell. This cell representing the situation facing the planner must be considered alongside two additional cells. Together these three cells capture the issue relevant to planning. One cell represents the institutional world, the other the organizational.

The planning issue should be understood as a collection of elements and values, extracted from the material, organizational and institutional worlds and their interdependent relations. This planning issue and its collection of relevant elements and values are essential in the process of decision making about the kind of purposeful interventions a situation desires. This situation is part of the material world. The process of decision making to intervene in this situation is central to the institutional world. And the organizational world is where most of the planning action is found. 

This multilevel approach results in nine cells – hence the ‘9 cells approach’. These nine cells are relevant to many planning issues. Completing each of the nine cells for any planning issue will help the planner to clearly define the issue and generate knowledge about possibilities and potential constraints. The planner will also be equipped to provide advice to parties involved.

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